You would think that after 50 plus years I would have it all figured out.
One area I struggle with, that I have made a conscious effort to address this year, is managing my emotions. 98% of the time I am a calm, low-key person that goes with the flow; however, on occasion I get angry, not violent angry but that kind of anger where you stew in it and let it fester until all you can do is think about what is bothering you.
The other day, I emailed a co-worker on an issue and didn’t hear back a response. The issue was important to me, but certainly not a hot issue for the company. I got offended and for at least an hour I had imaginary conversations where this person was telling me my issue was stupid and to not bother her and she ran around telling everyone else about it. She told my manager and he called me to say that my behavior was immature and unprofessional. I started to draft my letter of resignation. I could actually feel my pulse pounding in my body, my muscles get tense and my breathing get shallow.
Wow, all because my email didn’t get answered within nine hours!
The next day, this person answered my email and fixed my issue. All was good, or was it?
Another day, I was practicing trading stock options. I thought I had placed the perfect trade and then the market went against me. I kept thinking it would reverse and go in the direction I had planned, but it didn’t. I became an animal inside. I prayed. I told myself I would quit trading and never try again, I wasn’t born to do this. I was huddled over like a kid.
I placed a trade, got out of the bad trade and took my loss and watched as the market continued to move against me. I saved myself a lot of money by getting out of that trade.
What a waste of time and energy. Maybe I’m the only person who does this, but I guess I am not.
Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often with me, but it bothers me so much when it does, that I want to prevent it from every happening.
Writing all this down now, I feel like I should be put in a rubber room with the door locked, sipping my dinner through a straw, while my hands are tied behind my back. What a nutcase.
Even though I haven’t eliminated these episodes from my life, I feel that I have cut down on the number of them. Below are the techniques I have used to help when I get into the hot water and that help me return to peace and calm.
TECHNIQUES TO MASTER MY EMOTIONS
1. Recognize I am in a state of anger and frustration – The first step is to be aware of when you get into a state where your emotions run rampant. What are the situations that cause you anguish? Who are the people that push your buttons? How does your body react? Does your blood pressure intensify so much that you can actually feel your pulse in your forehead or neck? Do you grit your teeth?
Once you know when, where and how you will potentially lose your cool, you can prepare yourself for it. This sets you up to take one of the other steps to prevent or eliminate a blowout.
2. View yourself in the situation – Watch yourself in the heat of the battle. It’s like you’re on TV and you’re embarrassed to watch your acting skills. You want to tell yourself, “hey, get it together, you’re getting mad at nothing.”
It’s almost never as bad as it seems. Seeing yourself at that moment is like a whack across the cheeks. You can become objective about the situation, like the smart side of you telling the dumb side how to act.
3. Get up walk and breathe deeply – OK so you’re in the middle of a scene where you could come out badly. You might say or do the wrong things. You know you’re there but viewing the situation in your mind doesn’t work cause you’re too far gone.
Get up and walk away from the place or person and start to breathe deeply. Use this link to a previous blog post on how to do an effective breathing exercise LINK. Don’t come back until you feel your heart rate return to normal and you can speak or act calmly.
4. Laugh at how silly it is – Keep the bad moment out of your memory by thinking how silly it was. Maybe the actual event was stressful, but how you were reacting to it was over the top. Find some way to make yourself laugh about it. Think of the crazy look on your face, or the vein in your temple pulsating, or your voice shaking as you told that person off. If there isn’t anything funny to remember then make something up. Laughter will get you out of a lot of messes.
There you go. The 4 steps to controlling your emotions. Be aware of moments when it could happen. Be objective by picturing yourself in the moment, get up and walk away and don’t return until you’re calm, and then laugh about it so you don’t retain the negativity in your mind.